It’s Shadowtime in Kickstarter-land

I was going to start this post off talking about coincidences, but around the halfway mark on the first paragraph, my typings reached the conclusion that I didn’t have a point, what I was writing about wasn’t coincidence, and that I should just give up and start again; so I did… unfortunately this version isn’t going that much better, but I’m going to stick with it.

I want to make some online noise about two games currently on Kickstarter, both of which take place in a fantasy world and have the common theme of shadows. I was going down the “These two games coincidentally have similar themes”, avenue of blog post, but there is a common, third element, at work which eliminates the coincidental nature of these two games; that element is me. I like games like this, so finding two which are both on Kickstarter at the same time isn’t so true coincidence, but more like ‘good-internetting’ by me to find them. Self-analysis/congratulation done with, let’s move on to why they’re interesting and what tipped me over the edge from “these are interesting, I should keep and eye on them” to the much more fun “WOOOH!! I’m backing this!”.

Luna – The Shadow Dust

The newly formed, four-person, and enigmatic team comprising Lantern Studio have managed to pitch a charming and almost ‘cosy’ point’n’click game without revealing too much in the way of plot. The protagonist is a young boy, transported to a strange world, designed with surreal influences given the images of an isolated doorway, monolithic tower and Escher-esque floating platforms that feature in the KS-video. Apart from an obvious association with the moon and an implied malign force, it is impossible to say anything else although I suspect that the story will throw up more than one surprise.

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It was the graphical presentation that first caused me to pause one idle coffee break; the ‘frame-by-frame’ animation style and the faded colour-palette gives it a story-book feel and the backdrops, with the haloed candles, remind me of the paper cut-out animations of ‘Ivor the Engine’ and ‘Paddington Bear’ (For readers outside the UK, ‘Ivor the Engine’ is an amazing animation about a Welsh steam engine). Lantern Studios have emphasised that they want to tell the story in a very visual way, cutting down on the reading, allowing cinematics to take centre stage and tell the story. They also promise control of two characters, presumably the second being the half-dragon, half-raccoon type creature seen scurrying around. It’s not a brand new concept for the genre, but got my attention because multiple character control also features in ‘Resonance’ (Wadjeteyegames), one of the best point’n’click games I’ve played in recent years.

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It’s good to see point’n’click as a genre still alive and well; with the Telltale revolution of the past few years, I’d worried that their particular brand of interactive fiction (which I also think is pretty great) might overshadow the more traditional, but with games like Luna still being developed I think ‘Point’n’Click’ is set to stick around.

“Luna – The Shadow Dust” is currently on Kickstarter here and slated for release on Steam and mobile platforms

In the Shadows

2D voxel-puzzle-platformer ‘In the Shadows’ has been crafted by Canadian developer Colorspace Studio; and ‘crafted’ really sums up my feeling about this. In the past few months I’ve ‘dabbled’ in creating voxel scenes and the act of extruding, removing, colouring, and placing individual voxels is one of the more tangible experiences I’ve had creating something digitally.

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The basic mechanic of the game is the use of light to illuminate the shadow monsters, either scaring them away, or revealing them to be useful objects rather than the sinister obstacles we might initially perceive them to be; it’s a simple metaphor brought to life in a creative way. In the case of our protagonist, the monsters lurk in the imaginative world created by himself as a child. We’re promised a journey back into this world to explore memories and confront the fears of the past. The video presented in the pitch show a distorted setting, elements taken from reality, but re-ordered by a young mind; scaling platforms populated with home furniture and the vertical skewing of a child’s viewpoint. The lighting brings this world to life through the dynamically shifting shadows with the movement of sources and objects.

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The palette choices (which is a topic I seem to speak about frequently) shown compliment the various settings whilst still maintaining a coherency between scenes; An office environment feels cold, the rooftops feel cool & refreshing, and the library feels warm and inviting. The yellow glow of the light sources, memories, is warmest of all and even watching the video I just get the urge to go sit by a lamp and read a book.

I can only hope that ‘In the Shadows’ lives up to the game presented in the KS pitch; I’m reassured knowing that this is clearly something the developer is passionate about and it’s always interesting to read the convoluted paths that people take to reach the point they are now. It looks like a fun & clever title, promising the bonus of extended gameplay through secrets and collectables for those of us who just want to grab every last bit of that voxel goodness!

“In the Shadows” is currently on Kickstarter here slated for release on Windows, Mac & Linux.

Thank-you to both Lantern Studio and Colorspace Studio for giving me permission to use images from their KS pitch

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